We parked the car and walked down a grassy slope in the faint December sun carrying precious cargo - a small, white cardboard box. This was part of our last journey with our father, my siblings and I.
His ashes spread slowly in the water near the shore. Then they reached the current and moved quickly down the clear, cold creek he swam in as a kid.
"Maybe they'll float to where he was born," one of my brothers said. He was talking about Choctaw, a mountain community once the bustling home of many of our family members, now a cherished memory at the bottom of a huge reservoir.
Since my father died a few months ago, not long after his 75th birthday, I've daydreamed a lot about stuff I'd never considered much. It seems like any thought can lead to him. It's part of grieving, I suppose.
He was a man of passions, obsessions, really. And one of those in recent decades was an adopted state, the home of some of his children and grandchildren.
He loved catching crawdads in the Coos River, up where it frolics through the Coast Range. He loved freezing nights on Steens Mountain, and breakfasts at the Fields Cafe on the edge of the Alvord Desert. He was fascinated by the look and history of the lonesome land around Jordan Valley, with the Columbia River, Astoria, Powell Butte, Farewell Bend and a spot under tall ponderosa pines called Cow Camp, on the Deschutes River.
When I look through this issue of Oregon's Agricultural Progress, it's heartening to see articles filled with people who care about my dad's adopted state. I hope you enjoy reading about the work they're doing to keep it bustling, and healthy.